By Dorothy Z.
My aquamarine floatie struggles to keep me afloat as my arms and legs flail about. The smile on my face slowly grows as I go deeper and deeper into the vast turquoise waters. Raindrops bounce off the ocean surface and fill the air with an unpleasant, dank odor. The waves seem like they are saying mischievously, “Go back home. It’s raining. You will get sick,” as they push everything closer to the shore with every slight movement.
I look over to the beach, just to see my parents and brother sitting on our rented beach chairs talking about “adult stuff.” I sigh, roll my eyes, and turn my attention back to having some fun. I wish my brother would come and swim with me. Or, even better, I wish that my grandparents were here with me. I roll over onto my back, squinting my eyes, as the rain attacks me with tiny, wet torpedoes and the waves make me feel sick. I wish that the rain and waves would stop ruining the moment. When they left in 2013 for China, they promised that they would come back. Five years have passed, and I miss them more than ever. I can only hope that they are doing well in heaven.
I start humming a tune my grandparents had always used to calm me down before I slept. A single tear slides down my face as I reach to touch the hat on my head that my grandma made for me. It was one of the last days before they left. I watched in awe as her wrinkly, callused fingers wove together long, frayed strands of string. She looked up and gave me a wide smile, dimples appearing in each cheek.
I gaze down into the murky waters once again. The ocean is such an amazing place: supportive yet frightening. When calm, the enchanting hues of green and blue are a sight that you wouldn’t want to miss.
However, if agitated, its rough, violent waves wouldn’t think twice to wreck ships and destroy everything in its path. The sea doesn’t like to be restrained. It seems as if the ocean is angry more often recently, probably since mankind is polluting its waters. The ocean provides us with endless resources but what do we give it back? Plastic and oil spills. As a result, beautiful fish and coral reefs ghostly white. It feels now as if the ocean is plotting its revenge, ready to swallow the land.
After a while of deep thinking, I hear a faint, “Dorothy! We have to go now!” I sit up and look over to the shore to see my brother waving his hands crazily, signaling for me to come back. I chuckle a little and yell back, “COMING!” and furiously paddle back to the shore. The waves crash down as they throw me onto the fine, white sand. I trudge up to my family’s beach chair, soaked in water.
“Dorothy, today we’re going to watch the fireworks at the New Years Party. Let’s go back to the hotel, and you can shower there,” my mom said, while packing up our things back into the beach bag. But the waters still reel me in, as if they want to tell me something. As if they are warning me that something will change my life in the near future. Something good or bad.
“AHHHHH! MY HAT!” I yell at an evil seagull, after it dives down and snatches my hat off my head effortlessly. I kick the sand angrily and a puff of sand goes up. The individual particles stick onto my wet legs. This doesn’t help my mood at all, if anything it just makes it worse. I mutter inaudible words that my parents would definitely not approve of. Weeks of my grandma’s hard work, snatched away forever in that seagull’s beak in mere seconds. I look over to see an evil glint in its eye, filled with hatred. Well, humans did just come barging into their habitat and start littering and trashing it up. I ponder the situation as I slowly drag my feet to go catch up to the rest of my family. We had some delicious-looking seafood for dinner, but I don’t really have an appetite whatsoever. Reluctantly, I join my family as we sit down on a relatively flat area on the rocks.
After what feels like centuries, the fireworks begin. “Boom, boom!” the fireworks cry out loud as they reach the sky. Cheers erupt from the crowd as bright lights and colors decorate the night sky. I am enjoying the fireworks like everyone else until I notice some gray fumes escaping from those beautiful lights. It dawns on me: they are huge amounts of CO2, the main culprit for climate change. I was first introduced to the concept of global warming during third grade while watching the news. I remember the grim expression that the reporter wore as she traced the sloping graph line that showed the increase in global temperature. I remember the looks of disgust on my parents’ faces as they switched the channel and muttered under their breath, “This is so stupid, such fake news.” I look back at my mom, who is busy snapping pictures with her phone.
“Mom, aren’t the fireworks bad for the environment?” I ask, furrowing my brows a little.
The wide grin melts off of her face as she turns to look at me. “Just look. If you don’t watch, it will be a waste,” my mom replies, sternly before she turns back around, admiring the fireworks once again. Wow, mom. Nobody that I know cares about the environment like I do. I feel Greta Thunberg’s pain, arguing with a bunch of government officials about an existential crisis their generation caused that is proven by science. Apparently, since we are “mere children,”, everything that we say is false and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
The fireworks stream across the sky as the finale starts. Hundreds of shooting stars and a few smiley faces. The crowd roars even louder as the last firework goes up into the sky and pops. Silence. It’s over. I look into the distance and recognize many more places that are also setting off fireworks. This is just Hawaii, and it pains me to think of how many fireworks are being displayed across the globe and how much CO2 is being generated as a result. I turn back to look at the audience shuffling away with their families, laughing and discussing how amazing the show was.
Seeing the pure happiness and joy that the fireworks bring to so many people’s faces, I realize that maybe sacrifices have to be made to fulfill other things. Sometimes trade-offs have to be made, and sometimes things have negative sides to them. It would be amazing for people to stop setting off fireworks, but it would be practically impossible to convince this many people to stop wanting to watch them. Sometimes things don’t go to plan, and that’s okay. Sometimes you can’t get everything you wish for. Sometimes you can’t stop seagulls from stealing hats. No one can promise anything. But, you can still wish.